So I lied.
Our third ice storm of the year hit two days ago. My son’s car is stuck in the snow and my pickup battery is dead or I’d pull him out. Instead, necessity demands that he invent new ways to dig his car out sans a shovel. Should be interesting.
I am holed up next to my WFO and enjoying the gentle warmth.The kids are getting out of school again for the third entire week this winter. That pretty much wraps up them having much of a decent summer vacation.
And what of my plans for bioprospecting duckweed this week?
Sigh… All ponds are once again covered with a layer of ice and six inches of new snow. Spring duckweed sampling will have to wait. Am keeping myself busy with securing lab equipment and designing research studies. Keeps me out of trouble.
If you’ve been following my story for the past couple of years, you’ll know I have the tendency to go the DIY route as often as possible. I get a lot done on a nickel but spend a heck of a lot of time on construction that probably could be better spent soliciting investors or finishing that duckweed manual. So it goes…
For now, I’ll simply use folding tables for work space and drag in a small desk. When it gets hot, I’ll put an old window AC unit in the wall to the right of the upper cabinets.
My kids will be thrilled that I am moving all my lab stuff out of our home kitchen. One of my daughters looked at this picture today and muttered, “When is OUR kitchen going to look that finished?”
Ouch. She is right. My problem, other than procrastination, is that my tools are there and I need them here. End of story.
Today marks the grumpy, long overdue retreat of winter. I walked the trail through my woods today bundled up as usual in a woolen coat and scarf. To my surprise, it was 60 degrees out and I was over-dressed for the occasion. It was like walking through a slightly steamy jungle and I was thrilled beyond measure. The first insect of 2014, a lone honey bee, fumbled around as if stymied by the lack of flowers. The beginnings of green dandelion leaves under a thin layer of ice in the woods captivated me.
Super-saturated turf-turned-quicksand was everywhere and my boots were soon mucked up beyond my caring. The air smelled clean and spring hopeful. Today obviously was the turning point in seasonal shifts. Winter might try to exert its might a few more times, but I know spring will explode with great pent-up energy very soon.
On a sad note, I’ve lost another dozen pines this winter. They crisscross my trail in tragic, broken pieces. It’s obvious that they will never reclaim their strength in numbers due to the 2009 ice storm, so I resolved, as all humans attempt to do, to fix what I perceive as broken despite my understanding of the natural process.
To be fair, its partially an experiment in anticipation of global warming but I have to see if a total shift in forestry culture will work here in West KY. I planted one hundred Moso bamboo seeds last spring. Fifty sprouted. Ten made it to the 12 inch tall stage and look incredibly hardy.
I am starting a new kind of forest this spring.
A bamboo forest…
Time will tell.
Right now a team of masons and helpers from Masons on a Mission are on their annual sojourn in Guatemala, building concrete stoves for poor families by day and watching the sun sink behind the incredible vistas during “Beer O’Clock” every evening.
I miss you guys. Wish I could have broken free to join you this year.
I have done a lot of nonprofit work these past few years. While I feel I like to think I have made a positive impact, have stumbled upon a new approach that views the billions of those earning less than $2.00 a day by thinking of them as customers. This is pretty radical so naturally, I am fascinated. I met Paul Polak, coauthor of “The Business Solution to Poverty” and was invited to attend his first Google Hangout group to discuss various business models and how they could be adapted to serve this sector of humanity. Here is an excerpt from the conversation as it relates to my vision for duckweed.
“It’s alive and kicking after being buried for 15 months under a mulch pile,” he said with a grin. The picture shows one of three containers that Ken seeded from his unearthed minute specimens and all are reported to be growing madly.
What does that say about duckweed’s ability to adapt to not only darkness, but to wide temperature and moisture ranges? My theory is that much of the original duckweed died in the darkness but bacteria rendered it into usable nutrients, including sugars for the surviving duckweed to absorb in the dark. Mulch pile temperatures might have swung from 35- 90 degrees. As far as moisture goes, we know that duckweed can survive on mud on the edge of a stream or pond, so am thinking that Ken’s mulch pile never had a chance to dry out completely but probably came close a few times. All in all, this is quite a feat for the smallest flowering plant on the world.